Monday, July 30, 2007

Ride, Doggy Paddle, Run, Family, No EPO, What I am Doing Again?

It was a big training week-end. Three members of the Moo crew and I headed up to Madison for a training ride on Friday. Bubba drove me and Brian (I remembered to provide danishes this time) and we met Doug at Firemans Park. I immediately noticed there were no port-a-potties. UGH! Ok, I would either start peeing on the bike by default, something I wasn't ready for or we had to find a bathroom. I remembered there was a gas station about a mile from where we were, it was on the route back to Madison so that was the direction we headed in. Made the quick stop and the ride got started. We rode 10 miles out and then 10 back. It was a steady pace, one that I had no trouble keeping up with. I knew the guys were just warming up and that I would be riding by myself soon. I was prepared for that. I spent a half hour the night before getting the directions and the map and laminating them together with tape. I had a fully charged cell phone and the general knowledge of changing a tire. I was good to go a lone. As we rode, I would separate from the group, they would stop and wait and I would catch up. About 25 miles into the first loop I told them not to wait for me anymore. Doug did his best to tell me they weren't waiting they needed to stop, I called him a big fat liar (which is funny to me because his body fat is probably all of 7%). I think I even swore, which was a cue that he knew I was serious, I didn't want them to wait. So, off they went.

The sun was burning off the remaining clouds from the rain. The humidity had set in. My legs were feeling stiff and it was obvious that the feeling was going to stay with me the entire ride. I was glad that I wasn't beating myself up mentally because I didn't keep up with the group. I just rode. One mile at a time, just one mile at a time. I held my map with a death grip against my right handle bar. I knew I wouldn't be seeing the guys anymore. The thought scared me, just a little. A couple of "what ifs" popped in my head. The "what if" I dropped the map and it blew away came to me just as I was making one of the final climbs on my first loop. I hated this climb. Its dead center, when I say that I mean there is no tree coverage for shade and no barns around to provide a shadow, it's dead center in the middle of no where. And just when you think you've made it to the top, nope there's more climbing. I felt the map starting slip from my hand as soon as I turned the corner and started my up hill battle. "The map's not falling, the map's not falling, butt back, toes forward, heals even and steady." The map slipped a little more. "I'm not going to drop it". It slipped more. I was just about half way up when I notice a dead possum in the road. No way, I told myself. No way are you going to drop the map. Well, if there is such a thing as a self proclaimed prophecy this was it. It happened. I passed the possum and felt the last of the paper, covered with tape, slip away. I didn't have to look. I knew where it was going to land. I stopped and put down the trusty kickstand. Walked to the dead possum (holding by breath) and picked up my map. I waved it in the air, as if I was going to blow off any dead possum germs it may have picked up and then stuffed it in my shirt. I walked my bike the rest of the way up the hill. I was sweating uncontrollably now. I wanted to start crying. I took in a big gulp of water, did a gel, and some more water. Got back on the bike and pedaled on.

That's it, I'm not doing the second loop. I'll just go to Fireman's park and wait 2 - 3 hours for the guys. Heck, they're probably starting their second loop now it won't be a long wait. Yup, I'm stopping. I don't need to do 2 loops. I'm good with one. Then I got lost. I was in Verona and got lost. I only had about a mile and a half to the park. I looked for land marks but nothing was familiar. Until I saw the street Paloi. Thankfully I could only go one way and I took it. Sure enough I rode right past the park. Thoughts of finding my way over took any thought of giving up. I pedaled on. One mile at a time.

I was about 2.5 miles into the second loop and my phone rang. Tried to answer it, I saw that it was Doug but I think I hung up on him because he wasn't there when the phone finally reached my ear. Was ready to call him back and my good friend Deb's called me. "Hey, is this a good time?" She starts every phone call that way. "Um, well, no, I'm up in Madison riding the course." I said. "Oh, I'll let you go. Hey, good luck. Hey, calling me when you're done so I know you're ok. Love you." she said. "I will, I love you too, bye." I said. No sooner did that call end Doug called back. "Hey are you ok?" he asked. "Yup, I'm ok, are you?" I asked. "Yeah, where are you?" He asked. "Im on Sugar River Road." I said. "You started your second loop - she started her second loop - we're waiting for you at Firemans Park." he said. (Now, let me see if I can put into words what I was feeling that this point. I was glad they waited for me, that made me feel good. I was surprised they stopped. For some reason I had it my head that we were just going to ride. I felt this sense of terror that they were now behind me and that I would have to once again watch them pass me and ride away.) I said something back to him like I couldn't stop. I didn't think we were going to stop. I had to keep going. He said don't worry about it and that he would see me in a couple of minutes. I feel bad now that I didn't apologize for making them wait. (I shot them an email this morning saying I was sorry.) At the end of the call I hung up and stood there frozen. I didn't want to see them. I checked the time. It was 12:38. I called home and talked to my mom. Told her where I was and that everything was going fine and that I would call her on our way home. Got on my bike and just pedaled.

I didn't look at my watch or my cateye. I just pedaled. The thought of being chased pushed me for the next hour. And that hour flew by. Doug caught me exactly where I thought he would. He asked if I had enough water and even doubted that I did. I assured him I was fine. I was fighting a stitch but knew it would pass. He told me that he knew it would hurt but he had to keep pounding. I told him to go get 'em and off he went. I passed Mt. Horeb High School and thought for sure Dennis and Brian would be coming up on me anytime. I decided to stop at a gas station and use the washroom and get some cold water. Got off my bike and waited for D and B. Called Dennis to see where he was but got his voicemail. I knew they were going to pass me at this point. Used the washroom, got a banana, water, blue Gatorade and off I went.

Saw a lot of cyclists after the stop. Smile, nod, wave. One mile at a time. The sun was out in full force. The humidity was strong. By this point I knew where turn and when to anticipate my next turn. The stiffness in my legs made the climbing tough but it wasn't so bad that I felt defeated. Saw my possum friend. Made my way thru the country roads. Saw a UPS driver about 15 miles from finishing. A strange "what if" popped in my head so I decided to stop and call Keri. I told her where I was. I kept fading in and out and she told me to call her when I was done. Off I went.

The ride was tough physically but mentally, well, I was really happy with how I handled things. I was entering Verona and I realized I was almost done! I only had a couple of miles left. I started to cry. Just out of the blue the tears came down. I was actually laughing and crying at the same time. My phone rang and it was Dennis wanting to know where I was. Told him I was just entering Verona and I would see him in a couple of minutes. I got lost again! So decided to take the same route I took last time. Found Paloi and then the park. Just about 7 hours. I was so happy, I couldn't stand it! Dennis later told me that he thought I was on EPO when he didn't see me on the course. EPO! That's funny. He said it got to the point where he thought he was seeing me but really didn't. I told him how I tried to call and that I was probably going a little faster than normal because I knew he was behind me. I thanked him for pushing me. I think I did. If I didn't - thanks Dennis. Thanks Brian. Thanks Doug.

Saturday Scott I. drove me, Caroline, Tom F., Mike B., Gil and Tom R. to the lake front, my earlier post describes that fun experience. I failed to mention that my husband Scott brought the kids to the beach to play while I trained. I loved seeing them having fun.

After the swim my run started out slow. I was tired from the ride on Friday. Caroline, Tom F. and I ran together. Scott, Gil, Tom R. and Mike B. ran ahead of us. They said they would keep about a 9 min. pace - truthfully I think it was quicker than that. We were averaging about 9:45. The conversation kept my mind off of being tired. The first hour flew by. Before we knew it we were at Montrose Harbor. The weather was perfect for a long run. It was also perfect for flying kites and we saw some some really cool ones. Tom F. was feeling good but decided to turn around and head back, he's recovering from a leg injury and didn't want to chance reinjuring it. Caroline and I moved forward, talking and laughing. We got to the end of the path and on the turn around saw the guys. Huh?! How did that happen? Of course we picked up our pace. ;) Once again, the thought of being caught and passed was in my head. We were able to hold them off for a good couple of miles. Then we heard Gil and Mike on our heals. Then Scott and Tom R. were there too. Mike broke away from us and Gil chased him down, getting an extra push, and giving us a good laugh, by trying to keep up with a vintage style, bright green, bicycle. By now the humidity had all of looking like we just finished our swim, not finishing up a 15.5 mile run. Scott I. was fighting an ear infection and the antibiotics where taxing his muscles. He was looking better than he was feeling. Tom R. broke away from us. We only had a mile left. I called my Scott and told him we were almost there. As I got closer to the beach I could see them. Gracie would run into the water and would be chased out by the waves. Zak just ran parrell to the water and stayed close to the beach. Then Grace would chase him to the water. My Scott was talking to Tom F. It was a great site. God I thought. This is my life. It doesn't get any better than this.

I got my stuff from Scott I.'s car. I told the group I wouldn't be seeing them on Sunday. It was a day off. I would be sleeping, eating and having fun with the family. Told Scott to be careful driving home. Caught up with the family and we spent the rest of the day together. On the way home we made a quick stop at Garrett's popcorn. That stuff is so good. My kids got on education on homeless people while I ran in and got a bag of carmel corn and a bag of cheese corn. We spent the rest of the ride eating and reliving what had gone on that morning. Kids fell asleep about 20 minutes from the house.

Sunday was filled with family stuff. We got to go to church at 11 instead of at 5 on Saturday evening. Maybe next time I'll write about how Zak had to tickle the girl's toes in the pew in front of ours, while we were kneeling and praying. We went to the grocery story and stocked up on stuff. Came home, changed, ate lunch and went to the park for a game of tag. While running around I was thinking, hey - thought this was my day off from running! Made it home in time to shower and change back into the good clothes and off we went to meet my sister, mom, Keri and nephews for dinner. It was a great day capped off with some good books. Nothing like Dr. Suess to finish off a long day of family fun. Lights were out at our house by 8:45. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fear defines fear:
A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

afraid - feeling fear; filled with apprehension: afraid to go.

Well, it happened again. The waves were lapping the shores of Ohio street beach this morning. I was hoping they would be there. I wanted another chance to face them. I got in the water and things started smoother than last week. Found a rhythm right away. Realized I was swimming on an angle and tried to straighten out. Made the mistake of stopping and seeing just how far off course I was and that's when I took in a big gulp of water. Started to gag and cough. Got freaked out. Made my way over to the buoys and once again, I stood there. I was afraid to go. Was able to swim around the buoys in the water that separate the swimmers going out and coming back 5 times. Stopping and starting the entire time.

Ok, mother nature, bring 'em on next week. The day is coming. I'm getting used to them. The day is coming when I'm not gonna freak out. And I'm gonna swim in rough water the same way I swim in smooth water.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I stood in Lake Michigan. I was literally paralyzed with fear. The waves came up and then back out, up and then back out. I turned to Caroline. She was just standing there too. UGH!

Ok God, why the waves. I have an hour and a half swim today, why these big waves. The rest of the group was just getting to the beach. Hey, Doug was back! Gave him a big hug and before I could say much of anything he was off. He made it look easy. Ok, just go I told myself. But for some reason my body wouldn't swim.

Bubba was doing his best to get me moving. He was just finishing. Ok, if he can do it so can I. Off I went, my body went up with the waves, up then down. Take a breath, ooo, I don't like this. Up and then down, Up, take a breath, swallow more Lake Michigan water than I needed too. I start to cough. I look up and turn around, I'm only about 50 feet from where I started. Bubba's telling me to turn around and keep going. I'm thinking, I'm choking here, can't you see I'm choking? Ok, tell myself to get a grip, I'm not choking, I'm making it seem that way just to get out of the water.

I notice Rick and Tom F. were in the water and off they went. Rick yells at me to get it in gear! Gear?, um which gear turns off "totally freaked out"? I bob around some more and before I knew it I was doing every stroke just to move, back stroke, breast stroke, doggy paddle. Take in more water - "you're not choking just go!" I found a rhythm, made it to the 300M marker. Huh? 300M in 26 minutes. Pitiful. I tell myself to turn around and swim back to the beach and then back to 300M again. I see Bubba on the lake shore waving his arms, mouthing just keep going! Going back felt easier. Ok, time to turn around.

Just keep moving, don't think about the waves. Find the rhythm again, up and down, up and breath and down. I make the mistake of stopping to see where I am. UGH! Struggle getting to 300M but make it there. I turn around and see Doug on his way back. He tells me to just push on and don't stop until my fingers feel the sand. Feel the sand, the swim has ended! Glad it was over.

For some reason tho I wanted to do it again. I'm going to concur those miserable waves, I'm going to concur my fear of them. Before race day, it's gonna happen.

Monday, July 16, 2007

100 Miles - Lots of Smiles and Great Memories

I rode my 1st 100 miles Sunday. 100 miles - I can't believe I did it. Well, actually I can. I guess I should say I can't believe how good I feel today after riding that distance yesterday. I'm sure the adrenaline is still pumping giving me this great feeling. YEAH!!! I did it. What a great day it was.

Here are just some of things I saw, heard and thought of along the way .....

Riding down Plank Trail and seeing a small fox. - Watching my cateye spin from 1700 to 1800 after riding just 10 miles. - Thinking I need a new battery. - Craig being chased by a huge Shepard - Hearing the front of the group yelling at the dog. - Watching the back of the group pedal faster to get past the dog. - Keri saying that the chase literally scared the snot out of her. - Hearing laughter. - The Kankakee River State Park sign. - Realizing I have no idea the places I can take my kids that are only a half hour drive from my house. - River rock. - The morning sun reflecting off the water. - Tree lined bike path that curves down and then up and then down. - Gil coasting by me with a huge smile on his face. - A brown furry caterpillar (that I hope I didn't squash). - A narrow blue suspension bridge. - A father and son standing on the bridge watching us go by. - The Wilmington Water Tower. - The big golden arches of McDonalds. - Icy cold Coca Cola (No more Coca Cola while riding). - Hearing Craig tell the story how and old lady punched him in the arm because he told her that our group rode in from California, then later she learned he was telling tall tales so she punched him. - Hearing Mike tell the story about the old man coming out of McDonalds to protect his big red truck from all us "hoodlums". - Scott I. stopping to answer his phone and telling us to keep going. - My phone ringing, it's Scott I. asking if Rick was with us? - My phone ringing again, it's Rick wanting to know where everyone was, he was still at McDonalds. - Scott I. riding back to get him. - A freight train sitting on the railroad tracks. - Traffic zooming by on I55. - A road under construction and some very courteous drivers allowing us to ride with them on it. - Bill tipping his bike and watching his water spill out. - Pat offering Bill fresh water. - Pat telling me what kind of pedals he has and how he will email me the information because I told him I knew I wouldn't remember what he just told me. - Hearing race cars zoom by but not be sure which direction the sound was coming from. - Cold, blue gatorade from the BP station in Elwood. - Scott I. telling me that all I had to do was ride home from Elwood and I would have 100 miles!!! - Catching the group in New Lenox at a lemonade stand. - Kids screaming with excitement because they had so many people stopping to buy all at once. - The kids dads coming out to see why their kids were screaming. - Craig changing a flat tire and having his CO2 cartridge miss fire causing him to have to change the tube again. - Watching Rick tap his feet to the music that was playing in the park. - Riding into Frankfort and watching some of the group head for their cars. - Gil, Craig and Tony riding just in front of us, getting the couple of extra miles they needed for their 1st 100. - Keri and I at Benton Drive and me shouting out because I just made 100 miles. - Keri calling me when she got home, she did it too!!!

On another note - I have found that one of the best, probably most underrated core workouts is laughing. My stomach hurt from laughing before we even got into the water on Saturday. Then once in the water, when I wasn't swimming I was laughing at Tom R., Scott and Craig. "Paris Hilton" goggles and me missing the turn around point. Was that funny? Well, it was when I was out in the open water bombing up and down like a fishing lure. This journey I signed up for has taken on a dimension that has brought a greater meaning to my training for the Wisconsin Ironman. I have memories that will last a life time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tire Change 101

I did it - I changed my tire. I didn't have a flat on the road. The thought of it happening though has been bothering me so Keri came over to night and guided me thru taking it off and getting it back on. It went better than I expected. I'm adding tire changing to my weekly workout. Every Thursday night I will practice changing it and hopefully lose some of my fear of having to do it up in Madison on race day.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

WIBA - Train the Mind / Train the Body

Dialed home - Ring - 1, Ring - 2, Ring - 3, hmmm did Scott take the kids to the park? Then.....

Scott - Hello
Me - Hey
Scott - Hi, are you done already?
Me - No we just finished the ride and we're getting ready to run.
Scott - You're done riding? You rode 112 miles already?
Me - Um, no - I cut it short - down to 70, I didn't have 112 in me today.
Scott - You have a lot of work to do missy. .......

I wanted to hang up on him. Then I wanted to call him back and say what the F@#! do you think I've been doing the past 12 weeks? Leave the house and just skip up and down the block picking flowers while drinking gatorade and eating gels? Do you think chlorine is a new scent Tommy Hilfiger has put on the market? Because I can't seem to get the smell off me when I leave the pool. I could go on - I actually said .....

Me - Well, I know.
Scott - Do you plan on going up again?
Me - At least 2 more times. Hopefully more.
Scott - Ok, well I gotta go
Me - Love you, bye

I drove up to Madison with Bubba for an IMOO training session - WIBA - on Saturday. I was psyched and ready to ride the entire course. The day consisted of a a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile ride and then 45 minute run. I was nervous but felt ready.

Before the swim started the group was entertained by a fisherman arguing with a speed boat driver. We should all remember to take a deep breath before we start shouting at someone in public because the people shouting back and forth at each other really look stupid. Ok, I'm getting off the subject. As I got in the water it was announced that there was an hour to swim. I was then told about certain landmarks to site my distance and then I was off. The swim felt great. The water wasn't choppy and it was clean. While swimming I prayed, counted strokes, sang songs (in my head of course) before I knew it 55 minutes had passed and I was getting out of the water with the help of yellow cap girl. Didn't get her name but swam with her the entire time, she was nice.

Bubba and I went back to the car to get our bikes and change out of our wet clothes. Turns out we parked next to a couple he knows from blogging - Pharmie and Steve in a Speedo. Talk about nice people. Holy cow - that's them. Ok, getting ready to ride ..... Sunscreen - check, glasses - check, water - check, helmet - check, inhaler - check, nutrition - check. Yup - I was ready. Well, 2 miles into the ride Bubba asks me, "hey do you want to just ride the 70 with Pharmie and Steve?" "No" I barked back at him. "I have to try this Bubba. I have to". I think he thought I was feeling the heat from the day already because I was in the back. But I like the back. For some reason I just do. Then about 3 miles later, as the group started to get a little smaller as they pedaled away, I began to tell myself I'm having a bad day.

Now, I could go into detail about why I felt this way and how I carried those thoughts and then added to them with each passing minute but I won't because here's the thing. What is a bad day? I didn't wreck my bike, or have an asthma attack or break an arm. So why was I thinking that thought?

Who knows why I put negative thoughts in my head. But after 20 miles of riding I asked Bubba if we could do the 70 miles and he agreed. We stopped right there on the road and waited for Pharmie, Steve and their group. They weren't that far behind us. The next 10 miles were dragged down with more harmful thoughts. Then a bug hit me on the cheek. "Ouch" I said it out loud. I'm not sure if it was the bug hitting me or saying ouch outloud but I snapped out of my funk. I made myself think of 10 good things about the day. I did this in Rockford - just to pass the time while riding and I had just read IronWil's blog and how she used it when riding her half ironman.

1. Kissed Grace goodbye while sleeping.
2. Kissed Zak goodbye while sleeping.
3. Kissed Scott goodbye while sleeping.
4. Water on a hot day.
5. My gels - ok, that one is to easy think of something real. Taking the time to apply the sunscreen.
6. Safe drive up to Madison.
7. Wednesday's ride with the group.
8. The wind in my face.
9. Talking to Keri. 10. I can stay seated while climbing hills. 11. The bento box Scott I. gave me for the ride. 12. My kids playing with the cicadas at swim lessons. 13. Costco's return policy.

Before I knew it I was thinking of #14 and feeling better. Another 12 miles passed. I was able to concentrate on riding. It was hard but I was feeling better. As we approached Fireman's Park I could see that a large group had stopped to refuel. Bubba and I had stopped several times and decided to keep going. The pessimism started again - I think the heat stoked the negative energy. So, I forced myself to find 3 positive things I learned from today's ride.

1. It's ok to change your mind.
2. See how changing your thoughts can change the way you feel.
3. How important it is to take the time to apply sunscreen.
4. How to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while riding.
5. Never yell at someone in a boat from a pier.
6. Hey, I'm at 6 - that went quick.

Made it back to Monona Terrace. Called Scott. The heat of the day was in full force. Hot was an understatement. Managed to trot out 5 miles, wanted to do 10 because I cut the ride short but just like the ride, 5 was all I had in me.

Found a pinic table and sat for a good 10 minutes after the run. It was shady with a breeze. The lake looked inviting but the thought of riding home with lake water smell was worse than riding home with the smell I already had. And just like that the day was over. Any suggestions on how to get rid of the chlorine smell - I can add to my "Good Things" list for next time. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

July 4th

When out on the bike your mind takes you all over the place. You look at scenery, you remember things from 20 years ago, you concentrate on riding. When I first started riding it wasn't like that. Pedal strokes and finishing was all I could think about. But now, I guess as I transform my running legs into cycling ones, I find my mind relaxing and enjoying all that cycling has to offer. And how appropriate, that on the 4th of July, I began to think about how great it is to be able to get on a bike and ride endless miles through the trails and roads of Illinois. It is a great freedom we have in this country. I am truly grateful to the men and woman serving in our armed forces keeping our country safe and protecting our freedom. There are also the local police and sheriff's departments that watch over our trails and roads doing their best to keep us out of harms way.

I had a lot of fun riding on the 4th. Below are some pictures of the gang. I love riding with these people. One day, one day, I will be as fast as they are. :) Yup, it was a great day.

Debbie, Pat, Tom, Scott, Mike and Tom

Mike and Tom

Pat, Tom, Scott, Tom, Mike, Keri, Gil, Caroline and Debbie

Ol' Glory on the left and me on the right

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Song Has Ended

Something was missing from our ride out to meet the group on Sunday morning. As Keri and I rode down Plank Trail into town it was peculiarly quiet. And then I realized it. The cicadas had stopped singing. As loud as they had been the past couple of weeks - that's how quiet it was now. We won't hear the song again for another 17 years - hmmm, where will we be 17 years from now?